Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sky View: The Monastery: A Lighthouse for Civilization and the Church

Sky View: The Monastery: A Lighthouse for Civilization and the Church
Time and time again the Catholic Church herself had benefited from monastics such as St. John the Baptist, St. Anthony the Great, St. Benedict, St. Patrick, Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope St. Gregory VII, St. Boniface, St. Francis, St. Clare, Pope St. Pius V, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Theresa of Avila and St. Therese the Little Flower. From the mountain of spiritual solitude came forth rivers of life, renewal and innovation. The monastery, convent and friary were lighthouses of society and spiritual vigor for the Church. When Christians were spiritually lethargic, when the pastoral practices of bishops and priests needed reform, and when the Mystical Body of Christ was not showing forth the fullness of her splendor, saintly men and women from monastic backgrounds- those who knew the discipline of prayer –stepped up and pointed everyone in the right direction; that is, towards Christ and towards heaven.

Monday, April 23, 2012

MEDJUGORJE TESTIMONY OF JUDY & JOHN


John and Judy - Our Medjugorje Testimony - Done with love for Jesus and Mary
Our miraculous images on photo and we also have images on video, May 25, 1990...
Our Lady of Medjugorje

John and I were married in a civil ceremony in 1984. John was not Catholic, and I was a fallen away Catholic...how and why we ended up in Medjugorje was truly an invitation from the Blessed Mother....April 1989 was a very difficult time in my life, my mother died and the circumstances surrounding that were awfully painful...I couldn't seem to shake off the 'blues' and so John suggested going to church and I hadn't thought of that at all. The only church I knew was the Catholic church and John didn't really care, as long as I didn't ask him to become a Catholic. We started going to Sunday Mass occasionally in September 1989. I did not receive Holy Communion. I was obedient to the Catholic faith that I was taught. I was never a 'cafeteria Catholic.'

Around late November 1989, I heard about Medjugorje from my friend, Linda who had read an article in her local home town newspaper. It was just a matter of fact statement from my friend, but I was 'transported' back in time to 3rd grade where I had been placed in the middle of the school year in Catholic school from public school. The change in schools happened because my younger sister; Laurie, had been diagnosed with Leukemia.
Laurie

My mother made a marriage vow to raise her children Catholic and she wasn't doing it. I think she thought if she corrected that vow now that perhaps God would let my sister live, but she died. I was only a few weeks in 3rd grade Catholic school when the nun told us a story about Bernadette and Lourdes in 1858 and I was completely enthralled. This really seemed marvelous to me. I remember after the story was over that I wanted to go there desperately. I was so excited. I started thinking about how I could get there and I looked out the window and thought, well, I know my mother wouldn't take me there, much less believe the story (she was not Catholic) and I felt that the Blessed Mother wouldn't appear to me because she only chose one girl and I didn't think that I was as good as Bernadette, and then I said to myself, well, "if that ever happens in my day, I'm going"! That was the last time that I thought about that 'vow' and that schoolday until the moment when I heard that Our Lady was appearing in Medjugorje. I was so excited and felt 'alive' in an entirely new way. I was going! Somehow, someway, I just knew I was going to Medjugorje. My husband and I watched some videos that a priest, Fr. Joseph Milford (Oblates); gave me who was on my mail route and wow, it just confirmed my belief . I just knew right from the start that this was really happening. Then my husband and I read every book we could get our hands on but my husband was not open to going at all. He said he was not going to a communist country. So, I prayed the rosary on my fingers because I didn't even have a rosary. One Sunday after Mass, in January of 1990, John found a flier on a trip to Medjugorje with this church, St. Paul of the Cross.  Then he said we could go! Ah, the power of the rosary! We had four months to prepare and we just knew we had to prepare with prayer and all that Our Lady was asking for. 

My prayer was for God to give John 'more than me' while we were there so we could stay happily married because I was going to go back to the Eucharist and my Catholic faith no matter what (and since I never discussed my religion with John since I hadn't thought about it in many years, he knew nothing of what the Eucharist is). My initial immediate calling when I heard about Medjugorje was to go back to the Eucharist because, you see, that belief never left me. I had just forgotten about all of it....and I had to have Jesus now. I was ready to give up everything to do that. I went to confession after 20 plus years to a new priest of one year in 1989, a Fr. Thomas Euteneur. I started going to daily Mass with John and I received Holy Communion. John and I lived as 'brother and sister' from that time until our wedding day in the Catholic church out of obedience to the Catholic faith and for love of God.

finally found the holy water fountain in a photo,
 today, Sept. 2011! (far right of photo.)
We arrived in Medjugorje on the bus after midnight on May 25, 1990 and ended up parked on the street in front of St. James Church. Our group had spent a few days in Austria and I was so very sick with the flu and fever. While we were waiting to figure out where we were staying, our new friend, Jim suggested that the 3 of us walk over to the church. We did and as we were walking, I said to them with a little humor and a sense of hope, "well, if I drink this holy water and get well, then Our Lady is really appearing here". I already believed She was appearing here, I just didn't know that 'miracles' were up for the asking! It was dark, the church was closed and yet there was a fountain somewhere around the statue of Our Lady outside and I drank from the holy water. And I got well immediately. I also was not tired at all the next morning with only a few hours of sleep and that has never happened in my life. To this day, I have never seen that fountain of holy water in any pictures. 

That first morning in Medjugorje; May 25, 1990, we went to the 10 am English Mass and afterwards, the priest, Fr. Pavich, blessed all the articles and John decided to hold up his camcorder and looked at me to see what I thought...I thought right away, why not, it was like a little kid asking... I never thought about blessing a camcorder but what did I know...so it was blessed....so I raised up my new camera and had it blessed also.

Our first full day there was May 25, 1990. We climbed Apparition Hill after Mass and as I got to the top and looked to my right, (where Our Lady appeared) I felt this 'breeze' engulf me and I just knew it was something special. I felt incredibly loved in a way I had never felt before. Later on, I realized it had to be the Holy Spirit 'wind'.  Our Lady said: "The wind is my sign. I will come in the wind. When the wind blows, know that I am with you. You have learned that the cross represents Christ; it is a sign of Him. It is the same for the crucifix you have in your home. For me, it is not the same. When it is cold, you come to church; you want to offer everything to God. I am, then, with you. I am with you in the wind. Do not be afraid." February 15, 1984

At 3 pm that afternoon, Fr. Jozo was giving a talk in the church and we went. The church was packed. And then this happened...John saw Jesus just like we see one another, full face complete, on the altar that afternoon as Fr. Jozo was giving his afternoon talk at 3 pm. Fr. Jozo said "And Jesus stands before you" and then John saw Jesus through his video camcorder ONLY. When John looked with his eyes, there was nothing, John only saw Jesus through the blessed camcorder.....I was not next to him in the church but he passed the camcorder down to me with this message but I knew then, that this was God answering my prayer, to 'give him more than me' which actually was much more for me! The video camcorder went right back to him as I said 'this is just for him', but we were left with an image in the video and on a photo. Our friend, Jim, from the group was taking pictures right behind John so it was perfect when we all shared our pics later....anyway, Fr. Jozo then says and "Mary stands before you" and that is when the Blessed Mother must have 'popped' in the picture but we didn't see Her till we got home when we shared our photos and video with the rest of our pilgrimage group. All of us saw Jesus and Mary's IMAGE while John saw Jesus as a real live person that day and still - TO THIS DAY - sees Jesus and Mary completely full faced clearly the same as he did that day in Medjugorje when he looks at this picture or our video.....we were blessed with the images and people see them today ....it makes a dynamic picture blown up with the rosary in Fr. Jozo's hand and Jesus and Mary's images...ALSO, LOOK AT THE 'FIRE LIGHT' (Holy Spirit) COMING FROM THE LEFT OF THE PHOTO WHICH STREAMS RIGHT TO FR. JOZO AND THE ROSARY AND TO THE TABERNACLE!...

OK....look at the bouquet of flowers on the altar....look at the tall Lily and the stick of thorn to the left of the lily, and you will see in between those two , image of Jesus crucified face...now look to the right of the lily and you will see the Blessed Mother's face slightly leaning towards Her Son and on the video you can see HER gold crown and you can see it in the photo too...now that evening, our priest said we should meet and share our day with one another....well, I was so overwhelmed and just in awe about this since we could see the image of Jesus in the camcorder that I stayed in my room while John, very excited; the only non-Catholic went down and testified to what he saw and the image that was left and stated to the group that HE NOW KNOWS THAT JESUS IS TRULY PRESENT IN THE EUCHARIST, ....now, he did not know that at all before....so John's testimony was a real blessing for the group and especially for our priest, Fr. Venezia.

Many other things happened to us in Medjugorje that were enlightening and miraculous....I took care of my father in 1980, when he was sick with cancer. He told me that he was so grateful to have me taking care of him that if he could get well, he would take me on a 'trip around the world' and I thought how sweet that was but also unusual, we were poor and a trip around the world is not something I ever thought possible...well, one day in Medjugorje, I realized that my father was with me because I WAS on a 'trip around the world', people from all over the world were here! And they were also here from the supernatural world!....

One day during the apparition that was taking place in the church we saw the sun spin, pulsate at us like a beating heart, throw colors out and at one point there were 3 small clouds with three crosses going through them one at a time - and then at the end, Our Lady, from head to 'toe cloud', appeared in the sky, plain as could be!- so incredible! We were outside praying the rosary because the Mass at that time of day is in Croatian and for the people of the village.

Judy at the Blue Cross - 1990
During the Thursday night rosary prayer meeting that Ivan group has on Apparition Hill, Our Lady came that evening and it was so quiet.  A whole group of us were going up the back side of the mountain which leads to the blue cross (where Our Lady first appeared to the children).  This is where Ivan has his apparition on his rosary prayer nights on the hill. It was so dark we could barley see anything but we knew there were huge rocks everywhere.  I stumbled along and found a spot to sit and was leaning up against a rock wall.  John and others were kneeling in front of me and to the side.  I thought about kneeling but the rocks had jagged edges and there didn't seem to be any room.  The next thing I heard was that Out Lady was here and it was quiet before but now it was complete silence.  Then 'someone' punched me directly in the middle of my back and I hit the ground kneeling.  I knew immediately that this was impossible since my back was up against the rock wall.  I thought I had probably cut my legs because the force of the punch was dramatic but I didn't dare move an inch because I  knew it was the 'hand of God'. When the apparition was over we all got up and we walked back down the hill.  My legs were not injured or bleeding at all and I had no pain.  Later on, back home, I found this message from Our Lady - On June 25, 1988, Ivanka, one of the six Medjugorje visionaries, during her apparition, said to those present at the apparition, many of whom were standing up or sitting:  “Our Lady wishes for all present to kneel down.”

We also could look over at Cross Mountain and see the Cross as plain as day. It was all lit up with supernatural light because there were no lights on either hills in 1990...and there is no way you should be able to see this Cross, too far away and black as night outside. I didn't realize this at first but as I was walking down the mountain, I looked over and of course, saw nothing but night time blackness and this is when it finally registered what happened. There was no electricity on the mountains. Things like this happened to us the entire time we were there and to millions of others! It was as though you were not on the earth but experiencing something supernatural. Even climbing the hill was like being 'lifted' up there. We helped very old people and injured people up the hill and it was almost effortless for them and us.

We came back home and John went to RCIA to learn about Catholicism. He became a Catholic :) and we got married in the Catholic Church one year later on miraculous day, May 25, in 1991. We love daily Mass and Rosary and try to live Our Lady's 5 stones which is daily Mass, daily rosary, monthly confession, fasting, and bible reading.  John became a lecture and we started making the Mother Theresa rosary because I had read the story in the Catholic Digest in 1991. It has become John's exclusive ministry now, making these Mother Theresa rosaries, (over 11,320 as of 03.06.2014) and to give them away to whomever Blessed Mother puts in our path. Many miraculous stories have come back to us through the years because of this rosary. That's another story....so many miraculous healings physically and spiritually and emotionally but 'believing is the key to the miraculous.'  It is a 'thin veil' from the natural to the supernatural when you pray to God from the heart.

*****Monthly Message, May 25, 1990 "Dear children! I invite you to decide with seriousness to live this novena. (Holy Spirit Novena) Consecrate the time to prayer and to sacrifice. I am with you and I desire to help you to grow in renunciation and mortification, that you may be able to understand the beauty of the life of people who go on giving themselves to me in special way. Dear children, God blesses you day after day and desires a change of your life. Therefore, pray that you may have the strength to change your life. Thank you for having responded to my call. " *****
Our Catholic wedding, May 25, 1991
our testimony is at several sites on line, google the title
and also on blog called    And Amazing Grace

Faith is a gift from God.  “For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11: 29).   Faith is a priceless gift which can be lost through our own personal negligence.  Faith must be nourished with a well developed spiritual life and with the continual study of our Catholic Faith.  Spiritual laziness, culpable ignorance and indifference can weaken our faith and even cause the loss of faith.
     Parents have a solemn duty to pass on the gift of faith to their children. 

May 25, 2014
“Dear children! Pray and be aware that without God you are dust. Therefore, turn your thoughts and heart to God and to prayer. Trust in His love. In God’s spirit, little children, you are all called to be witnesses. You are precious and I call you, little children, to holiness, to eternal life. Therefore, be aware that this life is passing. I love you and call you to a new life of conversion. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

As I lay dying a voice said: ‘Let’s go’ | CatholicHerald.co.uk

As I lay dying a voice said: ‘Let’s go’ | CatholicHerald.co.uk

As I lay dying a voice said: ‘Let’s go’
Howard Storm and his wife, Marcia
Howard Storm and his wife, Marcia
Howard Storm was an atheist until he had an extraordinary near-death experience. After that, everything changed. Indeed, he is now a Christian minister. His book,My Descent into Death, shot to prominence globally after the novelist Anne Rice called it “a book you devour from cover to cover, and pass on to others”.
She added that “Storm was meant to write it and we were meant to read it.”
Storm recently spoke to me from his home in Kentucky. He recounted going out to San Francisco in 1967, aged 19, in pursuit of the hippy dream.
“We earnestly were going to create a culture of peace and love,” he says, but “because it was so hedonistic and anarchistic it was doomed to failure. We soon began to see our contemporaries being destroyed by the excesses of drugs and sexuality.”
Disillusioned by hippiedom, religion and mainstream American society, he became increasingly nihilistic. He says he turned to “total narcissism: I’m no longer interested in changing the world … I’m going to live for myself.”
Storm rose through academia and took a job as a professor of art in Kentucky where he says that the overwhelming majority of the faculty were atheists and hedonists.
“Being cynical gives you a false and inflated sense of superiority,” he says. “You can look down on all the ignorant fools who go to church and believe in religion.
“The sad part of it is we conveyed those attitudes to our students. Many students came from homes where faith was valued. After a few short years in university they had nothing but contempt for faith. I think it was a horrible thing that we did.”
Storm’s life changed during a field trip to Europe in 1985. One morning, aged 38, he collapsed in his hotel room with a perforated duodenum. No surgeon could be found, and after hours in agony he “knew that it was over” as he fell unconscious.
“I fully expected that to be it: lights out, end of story,” he says. “Then, I found myself standing next to my bed, feeling wonderful. My senses were very heightened. The pain was gone. I tried to communicate with my wife. I thought she was ignoring me. I also noticed an occupant in my bed who bore a remarkable resemblance to me. I knew that person was dead.
“Then I heard people calling me from outside the room, saying: ‘It’s time for you to go. Hurry up. Let’s go.’ They said: ‘We know all about you. We’ve been waiting for you.’ I thought they were from the hospital.”
But when he stepped out into this “hallway” it was “very dim, grey and fuzzy, like a really bad black-and-white television picture”.
He says: “I went in to this hallway and had a very clear sense that the ‘portal’ back into the room was somehow closed. I could never go back. The people led me away, and the hallway subtly became darker and darker and darker over a long period of time. Eventually, I realised that I was in complete darkness, encircled by a crowd of people and overcome with fear. I said to them: ‘I want to go back.’ And they started pushing and pulling at me. The more I fought, the better they liked it. They were biting and scratching and tearing at me, all the while yelling and screaming.
“Later on, I realised that they were people like me, who had rejected God and had lived for their own selfish gratification. Their wish had come true: this is what they had. In the place they inhabit there’s no light, no birds, no joy, no hope, no love… a bunch of rats in a cage.”
They screamed and tortured him for an age, he says. “Eventually, I was too ripped up and defeated to do anything. I was solid pain. The real pain is the emotional pain. They did things that I don’t talk about… degrading things.
“I was lying there, when I heard a voice say: ‘Pray to God.’ I said: ‘I don’t pray. I don’t believe in God.’ Then, it came a second time; and a third: ‘Pray to God.’
“So, tried to think of a prayer. I started to mumble some things. A mention of God came into a few of these phrases. With each mention the people around me became very, very angry, and started screaming at me: ‘There is no God’ and ‘Nobody can hear you.’ It angered them so much that they were retreating from me. The mention of God was unbearable to them.” Encouraged, he mumbled other jumbled half-remembered phrases: “Glory, glory hallelujah, God Bless America, Our Father who art in heaven…”
Eventually, he found himself alone in this dark place. Thinking over his life he found it gravely wanting. He felt he deserved to be where he was.
“I felt that there was some kind of justice in the universe and that if you lead a miserable life you go down the sewer pipe of the universe into the septic tank. And that’s where I was. Yet I knew I hadn’t been flushed down into the deeper part, just yet.
“In that state of hopelessness I had a memory of myself as a child in Sunday school, singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’. I also had a vivid feeling of being a child and feeling that there was a wonderful God-man named Jesus who was my friend and who loved me. With real sincerity, I called out: ‘Jesus, please save me.’ With that, a tiny light appeared in the darkness and it came down over me. Out of this light came two hands. They reached down and touched me, and all the gore and filth that was me just fell away.
“In two or three seconds I was healed and filled with an indescribable love. In this world there is no equivalent to that kind of love. These arms picked me up and brought me into this brilliant light. I was held against the body of this man. I knew that he was Jesus. I cried.
“We were moving straight up, faster and faster towards the world of light. It dawned on me then that everything I had believed in was wrong, and I was going to where God lived. I thought: ‘They’ve made a terrible mistake. I don’t deserve this. I’m garbage.’”
At that thought, “we stopped, and he spoke to me for the first time, and said: ‘We don’t make mistakes. You do belong here.’ He had responded to my thought. He laughed and said: ‘I know what you’re thinking. I know everything you’ve ever thought.’ Then he called out in musical tones and a group of beings of light – angels – who had recorded my life came. They began to show me my life, starting with my birth.”
Storm says they showed him scenes he had no memory of, like being a baby and his sisters playing with him. But as his life unfolded into adolescence and adulthood “things started going downhill”.
“It became painful, because I saw that when I did bad things, I knew that it caused Jesus and the angels actual pain. It hurt them. “So, here I am hanging in space, between the worlds of light and dark, watching my life. I am being held by Jesus, but I can see that I caused him actual unhappiness. It was just so shameful.”
He says that “the only thing they showed me was how I interacted with people”. They showed no interest in his awards, promotions or other worldly achievements.
“It became evident that the primary thing was how I had loved other people. I had done very poorly. I had failed God’s expectations of what I was supposed to be doing, which was caring for other people.”
As to how long this process took, Storm says that “there was no perception of time”, but “when I try to frame it in our time, I say, it took longer than graduate school, which for me was three and a half years”.
Eventually, he was told he wasn’t ready for heaven and would have to go back to earth. “I was very upset,” he says.
Reluctantly, after some resistance, he accepted his fate. Then, instantaneously, he was back in his body in that Paris hospital, being prepared for surgery.
Afterwards his life changed utterly. He could no longer go back to his old ways. His friends met his story with “rejection, ridicule and scorn”. But he found new friends at Bible study groups. Gradually he became more and more involved in his church, eventually becoming a minister in the United Church of Christ. In this capacity he works closely with Catholic Church in Latin America. He argues that “God sees the Church as one Church” and that “all the divisions are manmade”.
This one Church, he says, “should be out there risking their pretty vestments”, pursuing those lost souls, gripped by the nihilism and atheism, now running rampant across the western world.
For more information about Howard Storm, visit Howardstorm.com.